Dublin Core




Semperviva, full name Sempervivum tectorum, is the Latin name for plants known as houseleeks, liveforevers, and sengreen, among many other names. It is a succulent and has rosette leaves with fine hairs and pink flowers. It is well-known in folk medicine.


Semperviva is native to southern Europe. Since ancient Rome, there have been superstitions about the plant’s ability to protect houses from lightning strikes. The plant’s magical properties also extend to medicinal remedies. For example, English manuscripts of the fourteenth century record it as a cure for burning hands, paralleling its believed defense against lightning. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, semperviva was seen as a good luck plant for the house.


In Ms. Fr. 640:
Fol. 55r - "Against wounds"
Cut a chicken or a dog to test & in the wound put sap & pestled herb which is called semperviva, that is the small one which has leaves like small grains, which some call vermicularis. And one holds for certain that it will not die.


Donald Watts, “Houseleek,” in Dictionary of Plant Lore (Amsterdam: Elsevier/AP, 2007), pp. 202-3,

"Housesleek", Australian Oxford Dictionary (2 ed.), Oxford University Press (2004),

"Housesleek", Oxford Dictionary of English (3 ed.), Oxford University Press (2015),

Image: Hans Simon Holtzbecker, Maria Sibylla Merian, and Tidligere tilskrevet, "Sempervivum tectorum (almindelig husløg); Sempervivum montanum (bjerg-husløg)," 1649-1659, Artstor,

Elia Zhang, Columbia University




“Semperviva,” om+ka, accessed June 4, 2023,

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